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Hustler Zeon

PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2014 5:41 am
by mfrerking
I test drove a Zeon at the Vermont gathering several years ago and have wanted one ever since. I finally located one out in Kansas this past week, in my price range, and had it hauled over to my yard. :banana

It is my understanding that Hustler is going to or has discontinued production of the Zeon due to poor sales. That is a shame. :cry: We lose another product.

As I get a chance to use it, I will give my opinion of the machine here, in case any of you folks are tempted on down the road to pick one up.

This one was a factory demo with 34 hours of run time showing. The Trojan batteries were date coded Sept '11. It took two gallons of water to top off the batteries as the water level was well below the plates. So, needless to say, it will be getting a new set before I can actually put it to work.

The cause of this, other than neglect, is because of the charging unit they chose. (It is a remote unit. I would prefer an onboard set up.) I was told you have to monitor the charging because the charger will boil the batteries dry. Ya think? :roll:

I have a multi-stage, 4-bank, charger I plan to use, which is what they should have used in my opinion. Using a charger that will over charge the batteries will cause the owner to needlessly and prematurely have to replace very expensive batteries and further leads to negative experiences and perceptions of battery products.

Until I actually got it here, I had planned on possibly installing a set of higher amp capacity batteries than the factory set. If they had built the battery box 1 inch longer, I probably could have. As it is, the factory Trojan 31XHS flooded lead acid batteries fit with very little room to spare. Trojan's next size battery, the T1275, has 55 amp/hr more capacity than the 31XHS. The additional run-time would have been nice. More on this later...

The batteries are a little to difficult to get at to service. Access could have been made more handy as you will need to add water occasionally. Especially, if you plan the use the factory unit. As it costs $700-$800 to replace them, I will certainly want to monitor them regularly. To access the batteries, you have to un-thread a locking nut from a stud to lift the seat, then un-thread another locking nut from the same stud to remove the battery cover and small bar that secures the batteries in place. To add water, you have use a large screw driver to unscrew six caps per battery (so, 24 caps). All of this fuss is going to be a regular pain in the rear for battery maintenance.

The machine seems to be very durably built. I can see where some weight could have be reduced by using different materials. Lighter machine, longer run time.

Now... Hustler advertizes 75 minutes of run time. If this is based on a 75 amp draw, then the batteries are completely discharged and you are limping back to the shop to plug it in. You are hoping to get back to the shop. I don't think there is a neutral. So, you won't push or drag it. Otherwise, go find an extension cord and drag out the charger. Actually, the run time should then be limited to half of that for the best battery life span. Certainly no more than 3/4 of the stated run-time. Then, they advertize it takes 16 hours to recharge :shock: .

As far as instrumentation, it has a digital display which shows the battery state of charge in descending blocks. It is Cutis unit I think. A nice feature would have been a digital volt display for each battery.

When the batteries are discharged down to basically dead, a flashing light comes on. When the battery voltage drops below the controller's operating range, it shuts down and comes to a screeching halt. It does have a seat belt...

I knew going into it, that it will take several charges to mow my yard. That's ok. I usually don't mow the entire yard at one time anyway. Parts of my yard grows at different rates and after an hour of mowing I am ready to get off and go do something else. Just hoping it doesn't take four charges to do it with the Zeon. It may turn out that I do all the trimming and the tight sections with the Zeon and rest with my tractor...

Will add more comments as I use it.

Re: Hustler Zeon

PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2014 7:20 pm
by roberttroll
Ahh that explains the yard sale!

What did they do to those poor Trojans. Two gallons of water? They were probably never watered in their entire service life.

Re: Hustler Zeon

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2014 5:54 am
by mfrerking
Yes. The parts sales help. Donations are accepted too! :D

I got enough juice into the batteries to run it around the yard and to mow for a little while tonight. About the time I was getting the hang of the steering, the deck motors shut down due to low batteries. Back to the shop I went. I noted the factory charger is 7 amps. No wonder it take 16 hours to recharge...

It was a blast while it lasted.

Note to self: Take down the roll bar before mowing under the apple tree. :roll:

Here are pictures of the locking nut design to get at the batteries:

Re: Hustler Zeon

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2014 4:37 pm
by mfrerking
Thinking about venturing into the unknown as far as batteries go. As I have to replace batteries anyway, maybe I should go with NiCd or similar. The energy density is much higher and weight is lower. I might just be able to get this thing up to enough run-time to mow my 2 acres.

The idea of increased run-time and not having to replace the battery pack for 30-50 years appeals to me.

I sent Chris Z. an email hoping to get his input. He is the only one I know of who has put them in his tractor.

Anyone with experience or expertise that can help out here?

Re: Hustler Zeon

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 4:33 pm
by TimNY1984
The same idea of the batteries lasting multiple decades made me purchase a bunch of NiCad for my mowers. Life got in the way for a while but now I'm on the verge of jumping in to the project. Chris seems to be the best contact for running them in the mowers. Other people have done it, but he seems to be on the internet more often. Good luck!


Re: Hustler Zeon

PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2014 6:33 pm
by Bushman

I remember test driving one of these right after you in VT. It was awesome to operate, however, I am glad you have procured one and put some of the problems out here to read. As I remember, it has a pretty small deck too, correct? Was it 42" still? I really wish there was something with a 54" or 60" deck that could last!

It is really a shame they left something to be desired with the charger. That is one of the most important items.

Maybe you could fit 5 of those larger batteries in the available space and add a 6th battery in a single box mounted behind the seat? Is there any room?

Wish I was closer to check it out!


Re: Hustler Zeon

PostPosted: Thu May 15, 2014 5:31 am
by mfrerking

Yes. The deck is "42. A wider deck would have been nice. But, a "42 deck will manage my 1.9 acres.
No. There is absolutely no place for additional batteries unless I put them under my feet. The fenders are made of plastic and the battery box just does hold the current Trojan model.

I have gained some knowledge of the alternative batteries today.

The NiCds (BB600s)...I could stuff 80 of them (two banks of 40) into the battery box. This would be 60 ah capacity. Just slightly more than the Trojans. Doesn't seem like that much until you factor in they do not sag in power as the current increases.

Example: The 31XHS Trojans are 225 amp/hr @ 25 A and 57 amp/hr @ 70A. Roughly speaking, as the current increases, the output decreases. With the BB600 or NiCds, 60 ah is basically 60 ah no matter what the current draw.

Advantage with the NiCds is that they can be basically totally discharged with out damage. So, you could use all the available stored energy. With the Trojans, you do not want to go below 50% DOD. So, in reality you can use half the stored energy. One problem is that once you have used up the stored power, they drop like a rock to dead. Not much warning to get back to the charger. There is no "bounce back" like lead acid batteries either.

Another bit of information I learned today is that the BB600s will swell during charge. They have to be snuggly packed into a container (battery box) or you will damage them.

Found one source of 100 ah lithium. A 48 volt pack is roughly $2,000. Yikes! :shock: Then, you should really have a Battery Maintenance System (BMS). Lithiums do not like to be over or under charged. A BMS would prevent both. Add another $500. Then, you have to use the right charger...some more cash...

Lithiums do not like heat. So, some ventilation of some sort.

Doesn't sound like they are as forgiving as the NiCds.

I have been in communication with someone today that didn't have as good of luck using the BB600s in an E15 as Chris Z. This guy put them into his tractor in 2010. They have basically given up even though he watered them religiously and used the recommended charger.

So, one vote great. One vote not great.

Re: Hustler Zeon

PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2014 9:53 pm
by mfrerking

I have been studying placement for additional batteries. I might be able to place two behind the seat if I build a separate battery box similar to the extended battery pack of the Elec Traks.

Having eight T-105s would not gain too much weight. Plus, the amp/hr of the T-105s might get my yard done with capacity to spare. The six battery arrangement under the seat will be a little squirrelly. But, may just be possible.

I really enjoy using it. Would urge anyone in the community to think about getting one while the getting is good. Might not be for the novice. But, for the experienced folks who understand and can work on battery powered stuff, it is a blast.

Have found that if you don't push the deck motors you can actually get more yard mowed. They have plenty of power, but are capable of consuming a lot of power when pushed.

Not as versatile as the tractor. Definitely great for mowing though.

Another thing I have noticed is when re-installing the battery inter connect or main battery cable to the entire pack, you get a pretty good spark. So, I guess it draws current even with the key off. I see a main-power disconnect being installed in the future.

Re: Hustler Zeon

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 12:50 am
by roberttroll
And where would you get the nicads? I have looked before and they have always been elusive.

Re: Hustler Zeon

PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2014 5:18 am
by mfrerking
I have only gone as far as some possible used BB600s. Maybe Tim can better help with where to get them?